Published December 29, 2016
GRAND RAPIDS — Some four dozen American Indians and allies took part in a noon rally in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday, December 29, 2016 to show their solidarity to those opposing the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota and to ask individuals to move their personal banking from financial institutions that are funding the pipeline.
The rally dubbed the “Stop Funding DAPL” began at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids, which is home to Grand Rapids’ city hall and the County of Kent office building, and ended across Ottawa Avenue outside the JP Morgan Chase downtown branch.
The crowd of four dozen chanted “Mni Wiconi – Water is Life!”
Various members of the crowd have been to the Standing Rock encampments during the past several months.
“We have to think about water everywhere. I remember my ancestors who are Grand River Ottawa could drink the water from the Grand River that flows through downtown Grand Rapids. Now, you may get sick from swimming in it,” said Kareen Lewis, from Manistee, Michigan, who has been to Standing Rock four times in recent months for a total time of three months there.
“The fight continues,” declared Nancy Gallardo, who just got back from Standing Rock. “Two days ago, I crossed the bridge across the Cannonball River. North Dakota law enforcement arrested five people. This is a fight for water – because water is sacred.”
Jonathan Rinehart, who visited Standing Rock over the Thanksgiving weekend, reminded those in attendance that today is the anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre that happened on December 29, 1890.
Protesters wanted to enter the JP Morgan Chase bank branch to educate the local management about the poor funding decision their corporate office had rendered by being a funding source for the Dakota Access pipeline.
Grand Rapids activist Jeff Smith, who led the group, was stopped outside of the branch by a security guard who told Smith the bank is private property. Soon thereafter, officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department arrived to tell the crowd it could not enter the bank. Within minutes some eight police cruisers were on the scene.
JP Morgan Chase is one of several financial institutions that funded the Dakota Access pipeline. Since September some $28 million of individual bank accounts have been moved out of those financial institutions. Last week, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin led a rally in Hollywood outside of a Wells Fargo Bank branch where Fonda disclosed she has moved her money from Wells Fargo. She said at the time financial institutions need to perform due diligence before funding projects for oil companies that have poor track records on keeping the environment safe.
Native News Online photographs by Levi Rickert.
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